Category Archives: Linda Cole

Icelandic Sheepdog: The Dog That Traveled with Vikings

Icelandic Alan LevineBy Linda Cole

The Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog breed. A member of the Spitz family of dogs, this ancient breed traveled with the Vikings when they sailed from Norway and other Scandinavian countries to settle in new lands. Considered one of the oldest breeds, this primitive herding dog dates back to between 874 and 930 AD. They adapted so well to Iceland’s challenging environment and farming techniques, they were invaluable to farmers who used them to manage and move livestock.

The breed is known by other names such as the Iceland Spitz, Iceland Dog, Friaar Dog, the “dog of the Vikings,” or simply ISD. Legends tell the story of a loyal and noble dog that worked side by side with Icelandic farmers. The climate was harsh and the terrain difficult to traverse. The Icelandic Sheepdog, a crucial partner to those who worked the land, was a hard working and beloved companion of farmers.

Isolation from other dogs allowed the Icelandic Sheepdog to evolve over the centuries through natural selection and development by man. Well suited to work in and withstand the harsh Icelandic environment, these hardy dogs have changed little over the centuries. They were so respected and cherished by their owners, archaeologists have found many primitive grave sites of ISD indicating ancient farmers felt their dogs were worthy of being honored with a proper burial.

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K9 Nose Work: A Dog Sport for All Canines

nose work emeryBy Linda Cole

If there’s one thing all dogs love to do, it’s sniffing out interesting scents. K9 Nose Work is a dog sport that evolved from the drug detection community. It’s an entertaining way to give your pet exercise and mental stimulation as he searches out a variety of scents. From a dog’s point of view, anything that gets his nose wiggling is fun. K9 Nose Work is also a good activity to do at home when your dog is bored.

One can’t help but wonder when watching a dog, what sort of scent has captured his attention. The canine nose is so amazing it can pick up scents we will never be able to smell. My dogs are always pointing their nose to the sky, wiggling their nose excitedly as scents drift by in the wind. Some smells are more interesting than others, which can be seen in their body language.

The creators of K9 Nose Work are professional trainers and certified handlers of detection dogs. The idea came from observing the satisfaction of canines trained to do search and rescue, tracking, and detection work. They wanted a dog sport open to all canines who wanted to participate in an enjoyable game of finding hidden scents. It doesn’t require any special training or athletic ability for either the dogs or the humans.

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How Guide Dogs are Matched with Their Blind Owners

guide dog siniBy Linda Cole

Future guide dogs begin their lessons as puppies. They go through extensive training and socialization before they are ready to safely guide a sightless person through a busy, and at times chaotic world. However, matching a guide dog with a blind owner isn’t as simple as it may seem.

Potential service dogs are bred by guide dog schools and begin their training when they are 8 weeks old. Volunteer puppy raisers take the pups into their home, teach them basic commands, housebreak them, and socialize them to different sights, sounds, other dogs and animals, people of all ages, different terrains and surfaces.

Puppies are exposed to things like escalators, waxed floors, kids running around screaming, and noisy traffic, so that when they encounter something new or different while they are working it’s not a big surprise. When pups reach 16 to 18 months, they return to the guide school and begin their training. Professional instructors work with the puppies over a period of four months.
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What is a Feist Dog?

feist MgrayBy Linda Cole

Even though feist dogs have been around in the United States for hundreds of years, these little dogs aren’t widely known north of the Mason/Dixon Line. They were developed for one reason – to hunt. A feist is described as a small, noisy mongrel; a mixed breed dog with a spirited and feisty demeanor.

A feist (also spelled fice or fyce) dog can easily be misidentified as a Jack Russell, but there is a difference. Unlike the Jack Russell, feist dogs are of mixed heritage and are a type of dog, not a breed. However, they do resemble a terrier in temperament and appearance. The hunting style of the Jack Russell is also different from a feist, which doesn’t go to ground after prey.

The United Kennel Club recognizes feists, but the American Kennel Club does not. Also known as Mountain Feist or Treeing Feist, these energetic dogs are found largely in the southern regions of the U.S., especially around the Ozark Mountain and Southern Appalachian regions where the American feist originated. At one time, feists were popular working dogs found on farms throughout the south.

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The First Dog to Fly Over the North Pole

Umberto_Nobile_NYWTSBy Linda Cole

In the early 1900s, the notion of flying an airplane over the North Pole was considered dangerous and an almost impossible task. Umberto Nobile’s dream was to fly a dirigible over the top of the world, and he wasn’t deterred by skeptics who scoffed at his insane idea. Nobile was a determined adventurer and with his loyal dog Titina by his side, he made a historic flight over the Arctic in an airship. This earned them recognition as the first man and dog to fly over the North Pole.

Titina was a stray Fox Terrier wandering the streets of Rome when she found Nobile one day in 1925. The two month old pup was lost, starving, and desperate for help. She approached him, stood up on her hind legs and pawed the air with her front feet. He bent down and petted her on the head. Unable to leave her behind, Nobile scooped her up and carried her home. From that moment on, Titina followed Nobile wherever he went.

She didn’t share her owner’s love of flying, but her desire to be with him was stronger than her fear. Nobile had intended to leave Titina at home during his 1926 flight over the Arctic, but the little dog wasn’t about to be left behind. As his airship the Norge rose from the ground, Nobile clutched Titina tight against his chest as thousands of well wishers cheered. A green, red and white Italian sash hung around the dog’s neck. The Norge headed north and began a journey that would make Titina and Nobile household names.

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Stabyhoun: A Calm and Intelligent Breed from the Netherlands

staby mjk2By Linda Cole

Considered a rare breed, this versatile, hard working farm dog has slowly gained a following in the United States. The Stabyhoun isn’t recognized by the American Kennel Club at this time, but was accepted into the Foundation Stock Service in 2005, and will be in the Sporting Group once the breed is officially recognized. However, the Staby is recognized by the United Kennel Club. This isn’t a herding dog, but has been described as like a Border Collie – with an off switch.

The Stabyhoun, pronounced Stah BAY hoon, originated in the northeastern region of the Netherlands in a province called Friesland during the Spanish occupation from 1568-1648. During this time, Spaniards crossed their spaniels with local pointing dogs to produce a well rounded, gentle yet tenacious and smart farm and hunting dog. Affectionately known as the Staby or Bijke in his native country, the breed name translates from the Dutch phrase “sta me bij hond” which means “stand by me dog.” That’s a job this dog is more than willing to do. The breed has also been known as Friese Stabij or Friesian Pointer, and the breed name is sometimes spelled Stabijhoun.

This breed belonged solely to poor farmers who could only support one dog. He earned his keep by helping out around the farm wherever he was needed. With a keen nose and sharp eyes, the Staby was an excellent duck and upland bird hunter. He was a capable pointer and soft-mouthed retriever, and an excellent swimmer even in cold water. Today, few hunters utilize the Stabyhouns hunting skills, and most have found a comfortable life as a friendly, loyal and affectionate family pet.

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